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THE most important man in, Asia is sixty-seven, tall, thin, and
elegant, with a monocle on a grey silk cord, and a stiff white collar
which he wears in the hottest weather. He suggest a gentleman
of Spain, a diplomat of the old school; one used to see his like
sitting in the window of the St. James's Club, sipping Contrexe-
ville while he read Le Temps, which was propped against a Queen
Amxe toast rack stacked with toast Melba.
I have called Mr. Jinnah cthe most important man in Asia/
That was to ensure that you kept him spotlit in your mind. Like
all superlatives the description is open to argument, but it is not
really so far from the truth. India is likely to be the world's
greatest problem for some years to come, and Mr. Jiimah is in a
position of unique strategic importance. He can sway the battle
this way or that as he chooses. His 100 million Muslims will
march to the left, to the right, to the front, to the rear at his
bidding, and at nobody else^s., .that is the point. It is not the
same in the Hindu ranks. If Gandhi goes, there is always Nehru,
or RajagopalacharL or Patel or a dozen others. But if Jinnah
goes, who is there ?
By this I do not mean that the Muslim League would dis-
integrate—it is far too homogeneous and virile a body—but that
its actions would be incalculable. It might run completely off the
rails, and charge through India with fire and slaughter; it might
start another war. As long as Jinnah is there, nothing like this
will happen.
And so, you see. a great deal hangs on the grey silk cord of that
I first met him on December 18th, 1943. He said he could give
me half an hour, and gave me nearly three. In that space of time
he surveyed a very wide field ; the gist of his remarks, however, the
living essence, is in the following dialogue, which he has been good
enough to edit.